In a first precedent, the poet and novelist Ibrahim Nasrallah won the Katara Prize for the second time, in the category of the published novel, for his novel A Tank Under the Christmas Tree; thus becoming the first Arab novelist to win the award twice in this category. The names of the winners in the various categories of the award were announced Tuesday, October 13, in Doha, on the occasion of the International Day of Fiction. This year witnessed excellent participation, as the number of nominated novels for the category of published novels, which is considered the most prominent award within the Katara Awards, reached 930 novels.
Katara Prize for Arabic Novel
The Katara Prize for Arabic Fiction is an annual award that was launched by the General Organization for Cultural District – Katara in Qatar at the beginning of 2014.
The award aims to consolidate the presence of distinguished Arab novels at the regional and international levels, and to encourage and appreciate the creative Arab novelists to move forward towards wider horizons of creativity and excellence, which will ultimately help raise the level of interest in reading the Arabic novel and enhance cultural knowledge and awareness.
The Katara Prize is committed to upholding the values of independence, transparency and integrity during the selection process for candidates. It also translates the work of the winners into English and French, publishing and marketing unpublished novels, as well as opening the door to competition for publishers and novelists alike.
Nasrallah was born in 1954 to Palestinian parents who were evicted from their land in Palestine in 1948. He spent his childhood and youth in a refugee camp in Jordan, and began his career as a teacher in Saudi Arabia. After returning to Amman, he worked in the media and cultural sectors till 2006 when he dedicated his life to writing. To date, he has published 15 poetry collections, 21 novels, and several other books. In 1985, he started writing the Palestinian Comedy covering 250 years of modern Palestinian history in a series of novels in which each novel is an independent one; to date 12 novels have been published in the framework of this project. Five of his novels and a volume of poetry have been published in English, four works in Italian, and one novel in Danish, Turkish, and Persian.
Nasrallah is also an artist and photographer and has had four solo exhibitions of his photography. He won nine prizes, and his novel Prairies of Fever was chosen by the Guardian newspaper as one of the most important ten novels written by Arabs or non-Arabs about the Arab world. Three of his novels were listed on the International Prize for Arabic Fiction for the years 2009, 2013, and 2014. In 2012 he won the inaugural Jerusalem Award for Culture and Creativity for his literary work. Nasrallah is considered one of the most read writers in the Arab world.
In January 2014, he succeeded in summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in a venture that involved two Palestinian adolescents, a boy and a girl, who have lost their legs. The climb was in support to a nongovernmental organization dedicated to providing medical services to Palestinian and Arab children. Nasrallah wrote about this journey in a novel entitled The Spirits of Kilimanjaro (2015). In 2016, Nasrallah was awarded the Katara Prize for Arabic Novels for this work.
His novel The Second Dog War was awarded the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (Arabic Booker) for 2018.